How to Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine & Soap Scum

Annette W.
by Annette W.
It's amazing how dirty a washing machine gets. Just like our bathtubs, it can become caked with soap scum. Running a couple of cycles of bleach just is not enough to clean a washing machine.
To clean your top-loading washing machine, begin with running a long cycle with just hot water and bleach. You'll want to use 4 cups of bleach. Do not add detergent. Let the washer sit for an hour with the bleach water, then finish the cycle. (If you are concerned about the amount of bleach in your septic system, you can try to skip this step.)
When that cycle is complete, run a long cycle with hot water and 4-6 cups of vinegar. After a short agitation, start wiping the exterior and interior. Remove the top of the agitator and allow it to soak.
The soap scum will not come clean by just wiping it. My way is nearly effortless! For further instructions, please visit
Annette W.
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  3 questions
  • Tommy Schroeder Tommy Schroeder on Aug 08, 2016
    My softener dispenser full of great amounts of mold and mildew. It obviously get no rinse from the machine. There is no way to open it for a complete clean. ???

  • Shirley Shirley on Aug 28, 2016
    My old dishwasher has rust around the drain. how can this be removed safely?

  • Dana Dana on Sep 05, 2017
    I'm going out on a limb here... how old is your septic system? Are you sure the cause of the leach lines needing to be replaced?
    " no roots or trees in the area?" By the time your lines fill and drain off the chemicals are already to weak to cause issues.

    But, because I did research this... here is a web page that states what can't go into your Toilet.

    And from personal experienc, I used it for years and never ever had a issue with my septi lines or tank. It's not like you use gallons of sno bowl in your septic. As for dropping it on your carpet...
    thats another issue all together.
    First carpet in the bathroom is just nasty. Your toilet can over flow and soak your carpets. Little and even big boys wee on them.
    Honestly im not trying to sound mean, but I think other things are in play here.

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7 of 46 comments
  • Debby Debby on Sep 03, 2016
    I use the wool balls with a bit of lavender essence oil on the balls and I love the scent and I do not buy dryer sheets anymore. The wool balls last forever, and work like a charm.. I also use vinegar in my wash and a little baking soda into the rinse cycle which not only keeps my clothes from having that icky smell but cleans my washer. WIN WIN

    • See 2 previous
    • Gina Gina on Apr 11, 2021

      You can buy wool dryer balls on Amazon. There are so many different kinds to choose from!

  • Juanita Reid Juanita Reid on Feb 03, 2017
    I have just moved to an old (30 years last occupant and it was used when they bought it) log house and that included their appliances. I have made notes on your homemade products for cleaning and plan to try them. I have a hack for you that has nothing to do with cleaning but would love to pass it on to someone that might try it and post if interested. My daughter just recently told me to remove the plastic cover from newly purchased lettuce and replace it with aluminum foil. I have had a problem with lettuce going bad quickly but when I used this method, my lettuce lasts for a month or more without the loss of crispness or flavor.

    • See 1 previous
    • Esawyer Esawyer on Jan 02, 2019

      Also for bagged salads, I empty the bag into a plastic container lined with a paper towel, keeps the salad crisp & last more than a week long. Instead of going bad in a couple of days in that bag.